Federal Contractors Program
The objective of the Federal Contractors Program (FCP) is to ensure that suppliers of goods and services who do business with the Government of Canada achieve and maintain a fair and representative workforce in compliance with the FCP Criteria for Implementation and the Employment Equity Act.
Suppliers of goods and services to the federal government that
- have a national workforce of 100 employees or more and
- are bidding on contracts valued at $200,000.00 or more
are required to commit themselves to implementing employment equity as a condition of their bid. Upon bidding on a contract, the supplier of goods and services signs a Certificate of Commitment and receives a Certificate Number from Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) Labour.
Once an organization's bid for a government contract has been accepted and meets the above requirements, the organization becomes a federal contractor subject to the FCP. Federal contractors are randomly selected for a compliance review after one year in the Program. The FCP is administered by HRDC Labour.
The FCP requires contractors to implement employment equity measures consistent with the 11 FCP Criteria for Implementation. Such measures require the identification and removal of barriers to the selection, hiring, promotion, and training of members of the designated groups; that is, women, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities, and members of visible minorities.
Contractors must also take steps to improve the employment status of these designated groups by increasing their participation in all levels of employment within their organizations. Failure to subsequently comply with prescribed employment equity obligations will result in the loss of opportunity to bid on government contracts.
There are three essential steps in the implementation and operation of the FCP for employment equity:
Step 1: Certification:
Organizations that have a national workforce of 100 employees or more and who wish to, or are invited to, bid on federal government contracts valued at $200,000.00 or more, must first certify in writing their commitment to implement employment equity according to specific criteria.
Step 2: Implementation:
Upon having been awarded a federal government contract valued at $200,000.00 or more, contractors must implement employment equity in keeping with the terms and conditions of the FCP Criteria for Implementation. Essential components of this process are the development and implementation of a plan of action and the means to monitor the following activities:
• Removal of discriminatory barriers to the employment and promotion of designated groups, including the elimination or modification of all human resources practices and systems that cannot be shown to be bona fide occupational requirements;
• Improvement in the participation of designated group members throughout the contractor's organization through hiring, training, and promotion;
• Introduction of special measures and the establishment of internal goals and timetables towards the achievement of employment equity through recruitment, hiring, training, and promotion of designated group members, and through the provision of reasonable accommodations to enable members of such groups to compete with others on an equal basis; and
• Retention of records regarding the employment equity implementation process for assessment by HRDC Labour officers.
Step 3: Compliance Review:
In-depth compliance reviews will be conducted by HRDC Labour officers to
• review the records and documents kept by contractors;
• assess compliance with the FCP Criteria for Implementation and the results obtained;
• determine the extent of efforts made by contractors on behalf of designated groups; and
• measure the performance levels attained by contractors.
If the compliance review results are positive, the process is complete and the contractor is so informed.
If the compliance review results are negative, the contractor is so informed and is expected to initiate remedial action for review within a prescribed time limit not to exceed 12 months.
When a contractor is found in non-compliance with the Program appeals and sanctions may follow. The timing of each step is dependent upon individual circumstances.
Appeals and Sanctions
The contractor has the right to appeal an unfavourable finding resulting from a compliance review to the Minister of Labour. In that instance, an independent review will be undertaken to study the findings of the original compliance review and advise the Minister of Labour. In the event that the results of the independent review indicate a failure to comply, sanctions will be applied including the contractor's exclusion from bidding on federal government contracts.
Criteria for Implementation
Criterion 1: Communication of Employment Equity to Employees
Contractors can fulfill this criterion by communicating with employees, through the Chief Executive Officer or President, about a corporate objective to achieve employment equity for the four designated groups (women, Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities, and members of visible minorities); the measures the organization has undertaken or will undertake to develop an employment equity program and meet the corporate objective; and progress toward implementation of employment equity. Employment equity should be supported by communications activities such as posting the corporate objective or related employment equity messages on bulletin boards, and distribution of flyers or notices. In addition, the use of e-mail, web sites, newsletters, and information sessions for management and employees may also be considered.
To support ongoing communication, the organization should maximize opportunities to educate management, union executives or bargaining agents, and supervisory personnel of their responsibilities with respect to employment equity and to seek their cooperation in order to achieve the corporate objective. An Employment Equity Committee can often serve as an excellent channel for communications (see criterion 2). Contractors are encouraged to consult Guideline 2: Communications for more information on communication of employment equity policy to employees.
Criterion 2: Assignment of Senior Official to Be Responsible for Employment Equity
Contractors can fulfill this criterion by assigning a senior official to be responsible for employment equity. It is important that the senior official given this responsibility be known and respected throughout the organization, with sufficient authority and available resources to effect necessary changes.
The responsibilities of the senior official are to demonstrate the commitment among senior management to employment equity. This commitment must be communicated to all levels of the organization; select staff members to comprise an Employment Equity Committee, with the aim of articulating the concerns of the workforce, and in particular the needs and suggestions of the designated groups; encourage union representatives to participate in the process of implementing employment equity. Such involvement will help ensure that plans, policies, and required actions receive the necessary support from all parties; and ensure that the other 10 Federal Contractors Program (FCP) Criteria for Implementation are carried out with the support of the above-noted individuals.
In cases where the organization is geographically decentralized, it may be more practical to assign responsibility for planning and implementing the employment equity program to the manager/director of each region or branch. However, the organization requires a central senior official to educate those managers/directors, to ensure consistency of proposed activities with corporate and FCP requirements, and to integrate regional or branch-specific programs into a comprehensive corporate Employment Equity Plan.Contractors are encouraged to consult Guideline3: Consultation and Collaboration for more information.
Criterion 3: Collection of Workforce Information
Contractors can fulfill this criterion by collecting and recording the data for all employees and each of the designated group members. The data to be collected includes internal representation data (stock data), collected via a self-identification survey. For accurate data collection and further analysis, the organization is required to achieve a high response rate to the survey; hiring, promotions, and terminations data (flow data) that will allow the contractor to track the progress of employment equity over time; and salary data, including top and bottom salary ranges.
To provide a reliable basis for analysis, the workforce data must include the following for all employees and each of the four designated groups: All permanent employees (full-time and part-time) in the organization; All occupations by coding according to the four-digit National Occupational Classification (NOC) system; and Once all occupations are assigned the appropriate NOC codes, the occupations can be grouped into the appropriate 14 employment equity occupational groups (EEOGs). Note:Use of the Employment Equity Computerized Reporting System (EECRS) is strongly recommended to facilitate the collection of internal workforce data.
When collecting workforce information, contractors should follow the format established in Guideline 4: Collection of Workforce Information. When designing a self-identification survey, contractors should follow the format established in the Employment Equity Regulations.
Criterion 4: Workforce Analysis
Contractors can fulfill this criterion by:
• analyzing the organization's internal representation data (stock data) generated in criterion 3;
• Developing a narrative summary of the results of the analysis; and
• incorporating the data analysis and narrative summary (workforce analysis) into the Employment Equity Plan (criterion 7).
The objectives of the workforce analysis are to identify, by employment equity occupational group (EEOG) and/or NOC unit groups, as appropriate, specific areas of
• under-representation for the four designated groups by comparing their internal representation to their external representation using reasonable areas of recruitment (national, provincial/territorial, or regional (Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs));
• concentration of the four designated groups by comparing their distribution to all employees; and
• inequality in salary levels of the four designated groups compared to all employees.
The results of under-representation determined in the workforce analysis provides useful information during the employment systems review (criterion 5).
Note: The data on hiring, promotions, and terminations (flow data) from criterion 3 are required for analysis in criterion 5.
HRDC provides various tools to help contractors complete a workforce analysis. Specifically, the Employment Equity Data Report contains the latest Census data available that provides information about the level of designated group representation in the Canadian workforce. Contractors can compare their organization's representation of designated groups with the Census data, which represents an acknowledged minimum standard. Contractors are strongly encouraged to consult Guideline 5: Workforce Analysis for further explanation of the steps required to complete the workforce analysis.
Criterion 5: Employment Systems Review
Contractors can fulfill this criterion by:
• analyzing the hiring, promotions and terminations data (flow data) generated in criterion 3, by comparing
• shares of internal hiring to external representation/availability from the Census of Canada,
• shares of internal promotions to internal representation, and
• shares of internal terminations to internal representation
within each employment equity occupational group (EEOG) and/or NOC unit, as appropriate, to determine any areas of disproportion;
• conducting an intensive review of all formal and informal employment systems, policies, and practices. Using the results from the workforce analysis (criterion 4) and the flow data analysis, the contractor should recognize that systemic barriers may exist in the ways in which the organization traditionally recruits, selects, hires, develops and trains, promotes, retains and terminates, and accommodates employees. It is through those employment processes that under-representation has occurred or been maintained. All aspects of the employment system, including conditions of work and applications of benefits must be considered. Collective agreements (which are equivalent to written policy) must be included in the review to determine whether they contain barriers to employment;
• modifying any policies and practices that might discourage designated group members from applying for employment or participating fully in the organization's opportunities and benefits; and
• demonstrating that new policies and procedures are practiced at all levels of the organization where human resource decisions are made. New policies and procedures must be free of bias toward designated group members.
The aim of the employment systems review is to eliminate actual or potential barriers to employment and thereby advance designated group members within the organization. Contractors are urged to invite designated group members or their organizations to participate in the employment systems review. Contractors are encouraged to consult Guideline 6: Employment Systems Review for help in evaluating and correcting employment systems.
Criterion 6: Establishment of Goals
Contractors can fulfill this criterion by establishing:
• numerical goals to address any deficiencies identified in the workforce analysis (criterion 4) and in the flow data analysis in the employment systems review (criterion 5); and
• non-numerical (qualitative) goals to address any deficiencies identified in the employment systems review (criterion 5).
These goals are to be clearly stated in the Employment Equity Plan (as described in criterion 7), accompanied by target dates for their achievement, and the individual responsible for achieving these goals should be clearly identified. Goals must include realistic targets related to projected opportunities for hiring and promotion, and clearly correct an under-representation and/or concentration of designated groups in specific occupations.
Numerical goals must be real numbers and percentages that show, in measurable terms, the expected change in the representation of each designated group. Where corporate forecasts do not predict any job vacancies, provisional numerical goals should be stated in the event that unanticipated vacancies arise. Short-term numerical goals usually cover a period of three years. Long-term numerical goals can be achieved in three or more years.
Non-numerical goals are goals that cannot easily be assigned numerical values; rather, they should enable numerical goals to be achieved by removing employment barriers found in the employment systems review (criterion 5). Non-numerical goals support the achievement of numerical goals where under-representation has been found. These goals support the organization's broader employment equity objectives, and must include initiatives aimed at ongoing communications, modification of employment policies or practices (e.g., recruitment strategies), provision of developmental training, improving accessibility for persons with disabilities, and establishing a positive work environment. The goals should be updated periodically in order to meet the changing needs of the organization.
The goals must consider:
• areas where improvement is possible based on historical turnover and future business plans;
• impact of using alternative recruiting sources and adjusted qualification requirements;
• Restrictions imposed by collective agreements on hiring or staff movement;
• the effect of filling certain job positions in fields that require specialized skills; and
• anticipated future vacancies according to EEOGs or NOC unit groups.
In cases where a contractor's workforce is located in more than one geographic area, the organization may establish goals for each area. This will allow for the accommodation of regional differences and reinforce local management accountability for the achievement of employment equity. However, when managers develop goals for their own operations, these goals should also be reviewed at the corporate (head office) level to ensure consistency and adherence to the corporate commitment. Contractors are encouraged to consult Guideline 7: Employment Equity Plan for help in establishing goals.
Criterion 7: Development of an Employment Equity Plan
Note:Adoption of positive policies and reasonable accommodation (criterion 8) and establishment of a positive work environment (criterion 9) must be considered during development of the Employment Equity Plan.
The objective of the Employment Equity Plan is to guide the organization toward meeting its employment equity goals. It should contain a sequence of tasks and activities to be assigned to individuals or units within the organization, scheduled according to a definite timetable. The plan should be viewed as a working document, and as such, be reviewed regularly. Changes to the plan should be made as needed when a goal or activity needs to be altered. The plan should form an integral part of the organization's overall operational planning process.
Contractors can fulfill this criterion by developing, implementing, and revising an Employment Equity Plan that must, at a minimum, contain the following components:
• A workforce profile that shows the representation of the four designated groups within the organization by EEOG (criterion 3);
• Results of the workforce analysis (criterion 4);
• Results of the flow data analysis and any other additional results from the employment systems review (criterion 5);
• Numerical goals pertaining to increased hiring, training, and/or promotion of each of the designated groups (criterion 6);
• Non-numerical goals outlining the proposed activities to effect changes to the status of the designated groups, including: description of actions undertaken or proposed, to ensure both equitable access to opportunities and a favourable climate in the work environment (criteria 1, 5, 6, 8, and 9); description of positive policies and practices, including special measures in place or proposed, to support accelerated recruitment, hiring, promotion, and training of designated group members (criterion 8); and description of completed or proposed modifications to facilities and/or premises to accommodate the needs of persons with disabilities (criterion 8);
• Identification of the managers, supervisors and/or union representatives responsible for each activity to be undertaken (criteria 2 and 6); and
• A description of a monitoring system to regularly review and evaluate progress in the achievement of specific goals and employment equity overall. The frequency of reviews and the methods for correcting deficiencies must be stated (criteria 6 and 10).
In cases where a contractor's workforce is dispersed over more than one geographic area, the organization may wish to delegate responsibility for developing individual plans of action to each geographic unit so that goals and proposed activities are relevant to their respective situations. However, such region- or branch-specific plans must be integrated into a comprehensive corporate plan to allow effective monitoring of achievement by both the organization's executives and HRDC. Contractors are encouraged to consult Guideline 7: Employment Equity Plan for assistance on preparing the plan.
Criterion 8: Adoption of Positive Policies and Reasonable Accommodation
Contractors can fulfil this criterion by taking proactive measures within their organizations to accelerate the entry, development, and promotion of designated group members. The aim of these measures is to redress past inequities and directly increase the representation of designated groups in the organization's workforce. Positive policies and reasonable accommodation may include:
• activities such as special measures in recruitment, training, and skills upgrading for future promotion and assignments;
• general support measures such as day care assistance or flexible working hours;
• proactive steps to address the different needs of particular employees, such as adjusting job duties, evaluating physical requirements, and making structural changes to meet the needs of persons with disabilities;
• special provisions for leave in order to accommodate the observance of traditions of persons from different cultural and religious backgrounds; and
• implementation of "family-friendly" policies to enable employees to better balance work-related and family responsibilities. Such policies address such issues as maternity and paternity leave, childcare, day care, and elder care.
Criterion 9: Establishment of a Positive Work Environment
Contractors can fulfill this criterion by creating a corporate environment that not only encourages the introduction of new employees from designated groups, but that is also conducive to the movement of these employees from one occupational level in the organization to another.A positive work environment that promotes this objective can be realized by implementing some or all of the following:
• Implementing a formal non-harassment policy that encompasses sexual and personal harassment; and
• Implementing general support activities such as employee assistance programs, improved medical and disability benefits, employer-sponsored transportation, and development of an accommodation policy that takes into account persons with disabilities.
Criterion 10: Adoption of Monitoring Procedures
Contractors can fulfill this criterion by including in the organization's Employment Equity Plan, a plan to regularly monitor and evaluate the organization's employment equity program, and retain all relevant statistics and documentation. The description of the monitoring system should include:
• the methods to be used to determine the organization's status with respect to meeting its employment equity goals at any given time;
• time frame and methodology for periodically reviewing the statistical profile of the organization's workforce, communication of employment equity achievements or concerns, status of remedial measures, and the impact of new policies and practices; and
• identification of staff responsible for analyzing the results, initiating any subsequent actions or change in plans, and reporting progress to the organization's Chief Executive Officer.
Monitoring should allow for revisions to the Employment Equity Plan when goals are not being achieved, and for a re-evaluation of goals if these goals are being achieved more quickly than expected.
Criterion 11: Authorization to Enter Premises
Contractors can fulfill this criterion by permitting an on-site review, conducted by an HRDC Labour officer, in order to determine the organization's progress toward achieving a representative workforce that meets the conditions of the FCP. The HRDC Labour officer should have access to:
• the organization's facilities;
• all documents related to the organization's employment equity program; and
• the organization's staff members, senior managers, and union representatives.